I had the most fortunate blessing to visit this Cathedral. Driving south on the Autoroute, the steeples of Chartres Cathedral gradually rise from the wheat fields until it encompasses the entire horizon.
The central tympanum illustrates the Apocalypse with a central Christ surrounded by four beasts (Revelations 4-5); the twenty-four Elders and angels are in the voussoirs. The tympanum to the left depicts Christ's Incarnation, the one to the right, his Ascension; thus the three tympana read together present a unified theme: Christ's entry into human history, his departure, and the end of time. This kind of unity, much more complex than suggested here, is typical of Gothic sculptural programs.
And then there is Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles (photo intentionally not posted).
Isn't that the one that looks like an apartment complex?
Gothic makes sense if you visualize a mob of farmers chiselling away at stone each putting his own imaginative design into reality as best he can and without close supervision.
Chartres is amazing. 4,000 to 6,000 individual sculptures. 120 major stainedglass windows and many smaller ones. And the view? Pay the minor fee imposed by the French government and climb up the long corkscrew steps...and look over the whole valley for 20 or 30 miles on a clear day. Just amazing.
But gee, people in the Middle Ages were all stupid, right? Man's greatest architecture was built centuries ago.